Sunday, 2 October 2016

Arsenal's Trip To Burnley Previewed

Arsenal have played some really good football in the last week which led to victories at home to Chelsea and Basel. Their first half performances in particular were scintillating and very few teams can live with them when they play like that. It's taken them a little while to get into the groove this season, but it was certainly worth waiting for.

Of course a trip to Burnley will be a different prospect for them as Burnley are expected to get nothing from the game and will be perfectly content to defend in numbers. They did just that against Liverpool a few weeks ago and ended up beating them 2-0. If they can get the first goal it will give them something to hold on to and things could get fairly tough for Arsenal.

Arsenal have struggled to break down teams who sit very deep against them and it can require a lot of patience. The speed of their attacking trio can be nullified if there is no space to run into and long range shooting is rarely an option which Arsenal go to. However, it will take a defensive performance of mammoth proportions for Burnley to keep Arsenal out if Arsenal play like they have done recently.

From a team selection perspective I can't see any changes from midweek except for the return of Petr Cech in goal in place of David Ospina. The injury to Francis Coquelin last week doesn't seem to be as bad as it was feared and he should be fit to return quite soon, but it means Granit Xhaka will continue in midfield. The more I see of Xhaka the more I like him and he is the one player who is fond of shooting from distance as he proved against both Hull and Forest.

It's all about the form of Arsenal's attacking trio though and the goal threat posed by each of them. I was dead set against Alexis Sanchez in the central role, but he is growing into it and proving me wrong game after game. His ability to link up with others and bring them into play allied with his pace and eye for goal are proving invaluable.

As well as Alexis this season has seen the rebirth of Theo Walcott. His attitude seems to be so much better and he is far more involved in attack and crucially he is sticking to his defensive duties too. Added to that he has found some real goalscoring form and he looks worth his place in the team which is something we haven't said often enough in the past. 

The third player in the attacking trio is Alex Iwobi and he has shown great maturity since breaking into the team late last season. His interplay with others is fantastic and he so often seems to be in the right place when the ball pops up in the opponents area. I think he still needs to do some work on his finishing, but hopefully that will come.

I could go on about the support from the rest of the team and the defensive understanding which is developing between Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi. I don't want to go overboard though because there's still a long way to go this season and the team need to play this well game after game. A comprehensive win in this game and a performance to go with it would certainly increase the belief that we can challenge for the title for real this season.

Recent history has taught me it's dangerous to place too much belief in Arsenal as it all seems to go wrong just as we look to have made the breakthrough far too often. That belief is building at the moment though and I just hope it's building in the players too because they most certainly have the required ability. Today's result will certainly give us an insight into their mindset and whether they can play that well when it's not such a high profile game. 

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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